High Carb Diabetes Reversal

So readers will recall I stumbled across a video channel called “Mastering Diabetes.” The owners of this channel claim that a plant based, low-fat diet is the right way to live.

This video, High Carb Foods Proven to Reverse Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes, jumps right out of the blocks with this claim “the preponderance of evidence published in the world’s most respected, peer-reviewed medical journals clearly shows that a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet is the most effective way to prevent and reverse chronic disease.”

Pretty radical stuff right? It flies in the face of everything I’ve learned over the last decade from personal experience and my own reading. What’s interesting is that this gentleman does not really discuss the evidence very much. He shows a study a little before the six minute mark.

So the first warning flag is his appeal to authority: peer review. For those who have no experience with academia, peer review is very far from the gold standard when it comes to the quality of evidence. Those who decide what gets published are the gate-keepers of allowable opinion. The editors bring their own biases and prejudices with them. The sciences are less corrupted than the humanities, but to say “well it’s peer-reviewed, so it must be true” is naiive or disingenuous.

The second big flag is the study itself. It uses, big surprise, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study. I’ve explained elsewhere why these questionnaires are very poor pieces of evidence. First, people lie on questionnaires: many will write down what they think the scientists want to hear. Second, people forget about many things from their past. Historians have written tons of things on the pitfalls of using oral evidence from people: they often misremember.

So what about the study itself? The biggest flaw is the fact that we have no idea what kind of low-carb diet these people are eating in this survey. This study was published in 2010 and the female data go back 26 years and the male data 20. So the meat/fat eaters were on paleo/keto in 1986 and 1990 respectively? Who knows? The study doesn’t say. Given that keto/paleo has only taken off in the last ten or fifteen years, I think it’s safe to say no they were not following these diets.

The study also talks about a high-protein diet. That gives the game away too. Keto/paleos do not advocate high protein, they advocate high fat. But they advocate good fat.

Another problem with this study is that it makes no attempt to qualify what kind of protein and fat is being eaten. Is there a difference between a grass fed sirloin steak with asparagus spears slathered in organic, butter from grass-fed cows and a bucket from the Colonel with coleslaw containing rapeseed oil and other nasties? Both are mainly protein and fat. This study makes no attempt to differentiate.

The second study “A Plant-Based Dietary Intervention Improves Beta-Cell Function and Insulin Resistance in Overweight Adults: A 16-Week Randomized Clinical Trial,” has its troubles too. First, it seems that the main thrust of the study shows that when you eat more carbohydrates you excrete more insulin: shock horror! One might say, well diabetics have problems with the amount of insulin they produce, what did the study say about this? Well, the first sentence of the abstract states “the aim of this study was to test the effect of a plant-based dietary intervention on beta-cell function in overweight adults with no history of diabetes.” Furthermore, regarding the controlled group who didn’t change their diet, what did they eat? Paleo/keto? No idea, the study makes no mention.

I’m guessing if I was an overweight person with a poor diet full of shitty fats, processed foods, sugar and the like who cut out all that crap and went over to a plant based, whole food, vegan diet, I would have improved health. But that’s not what this gentleman is using this study to compare. He’s using this study to attack paleo/keto. For this study to have any value, it would have to include another group who followed a healthy paleo-keto diet.

Conclusion

If this is the best that the plant-based, vegans have for diabetics, then I’m not going to take them seriously. They only use two studies, one of which is seriously flawed and the other doesn’t actually make their case. As I said a few months ago, I’m still going to try a plant based diet for a week or so to see what happens. I’ll give that a whirl in the spring.

Scientific Argument for Paleo

I stumbled across this lecture at the weekend. It makes strong anthropological, archaeological and historical arguments for the paleo lifestyle. A few takeaways that stuck in my head:

  • The Egyptians were very unhealthy due to a grain based diet
  • Meat eating helped us evolve
  • Humans, though weak compared to a lot of animals, are great hunters due to our brains
  • Humans would scavenge large amounts of meat off of other predators
  • Scientific analysis of human remains proves we ate a lot of meat
  • Plant based diet advocates are using junk science to make their case; they are blinded by so-called moral arguments against eating animals
  • Paleos and Ketos think plant based eaters are mistaken; plant based eaters think ketos and paleos are evil and destroying the planet

Those are the key things I remember from last week. I think it’s really worth a watch. Fascinating stuff:

The Starch Solution?

This is related to my post yesterday. This isn’t an attack on paleo/keto per se, but Dr John McDougall is advocating a radically different diet for improved health. He makes a case for starch: potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn and rice. Also, no fat of any kind. He claims also that our hunter-gatherer ancestors mainly ate starches as well.

Given that I have reacted very badly to even a bit of potatoes, sweet or no, this sounds like lunacy. The only way he could be farther away from paleo would be by advocating cane sugar (I did see that posted on a forum once, by the by).

Okay, maybe he doesn’t believe this would work for Type-2 diabetics? Wrong. His website has a list of testimonials of diabetics who were supposedly cured by following his programme:

So what can paleos/ketos make of this? Well, in the New Year, I’ll give this one a crack so you don’t have to dear reader.

Before I do that, I’ll research his programme and summarise it for you.

Cyrus Khambatta – The Real Deal?

Well this is a proper attack on paleo/keto if I’ve ever seen one. I will break down the video and Khambatta’s research at the weekend. At the moment though this is a full-frontal, shock-and-awe attack.

Dr. Cyrus Khambatta - T1D - What He Ate #1 - YouTube
Plants seem to work for him

Keto is dangerous long-term and hazardous to your health. That’s what’s in the nutshell.

Yet, Khambatta offers hope to diabetics out there. His solution to cure Type-2 diabetes (and possibly Type-1 based on his bio): a high-carb, plant based diet. Go figure.

I will say a few things about the comments section in the Youtube clip below. He does seem a bit cagey about providing his research. Moreover, there does not appear to be many miracle testimonials coming from his programme. That said, it seems like a lot of keto/paleos swarmed his comments section.

I vow this to you though dear reader. I’ll guinea pig myself at some point this year with the plant based diet. I first want to get my HbA1c down to at least 5.7 first. I’m nearly there, so let’s shoot for the early New Year.

Some of Khambatta’s devotees talk about a starch diet as well which seems like a variation of the plant based diet. I’ll try that one too.

Here’s the clip:

Attacks on Paleo – Sorry, Neo Cavemen, But Your Paleo Diet Is Pretty Much Bullsh*t

I thought I’d start a new segment: Attacks on Paleo. It might be interesting to see what the non-keto, non-paleo layman thinks of this lifestyle. I may look at scientific studies at some point, but at this stage it’s more interesting for me to look at what members of the general public think. To that end, I’m going to start plucking articles from the web and take a look at their arguments, fallacies and all.

The first article, “Sorry, Neo Cavemen, But Your Paleo Diet Is Pretty Much Bullsh*t”, was written by Madeleine Davis at a site called jezebel.com: https://jezebel.com/sorry-neo-cavemen-but-your-paleo-diet-is-pretty-much-512277993

She starts off with the old adage “live and let live.” To wit, “[a]s a general rule, it’s a good idea to let people eat what they want and leave them alone about it. If someone wants to be vegan, who cares?…An adult’s personal diet isn’t really anyone else’s business, so it’s weird to harass someone for not making the same dietary choices that you make.”

So far so good, but the title of the article tells us that she is not going to live and let live. Paragraph two fires a double barrel at the mentally disabled, which is to say, paleos, “[u]nless we’re talking about the paleo diet, which we can all agree is a dumb diet for dumb people who all need to be told how dumb they are.” You don’t need any advanced training in logic to see this statement as a classic argumentum ad hominem. There is no argument here why the paleo lifestyle is wrong, you are simply an idiot if you follow it. A classic attack the man and ignore the argument zinger. Let’s see if she gets better.

“Joking, of course. If you’re a man who wears toe shoes and keeps his hair in one of those greasy half-ponytails, then the paleo diet might be perfect for you.” So no, it only gets worse, just another ad hominem. Only greasy haired losers with toe shoes, whatever they are, might need the paleo diet.

Surprisingly, this author admits that there are some benefits to paleo, “In fact, as mockable [another ad hominem] as the idea of eating like a hominin of the paleolithic [sic] age is, the paleo diet does have some health benefits. Cutting out processed foods (the paleo diet forbids any consumption of dairy, processed grain or processed sugar because they weren’t in use pre 10,000 BP) and eating more proteins and vegetables can lead to a more nutrient rich diet.

So there are health benefits admittedly. So why is this lifestyle so mockable? Is there any argument on its way? Sort of, but not a good one, “That said, anyone who thinks that they’re actually adhering to a legit paleo diet is kidding themselves [sic]. As Ferris Jabr points out in the Scientific American, both our bodies and the foods we eat have evolved greatly in the last 2.6 million years, so what you think is a caveman friendly meal of meat and tomatoes is actually an entirely different meal from what the first humans ate.”

Huzzah! An argument. So paleos are idiots because they think they’re adhering to the same lifestyle as homo habilis. There’s a bit to unpick here. Firstly, I have never read any paleo claiming we are trying to ape the same diet as homininans from millions of years ago. I’m pretty sure scientists would only be guessing at what they ate anyways. The paleo argument is that most of mankind were hunter-gatherers until the agricultural revolution circa10,000 BC. Therefore, we are evolutionarily adapted to eat a lot of fats, a moderate amount of protein from animals and lesser amounts of vegetables. Sugars should be in small amounts from fruits. That’s the basic argument. Of course, there’s more to the paleo lifestyle than just diet. See below if you’re interested.

The author has done us service above though by giving us a second logical fallacy: the straw man. This is when someone distorts the other person’s argument and then refutes the distorted argument. This gives the impression, to some, that the actual argument has been refuted.

In her penultimate paragraph Davis writes “Jabr also points out how our own bodies have evolved to support lactose and processed foods over time. Again, if you feel better when not eating dairy, processed sugar or processed grains, then by all means forgo those things, but don’t cloak your dietary choices in a wishy-washy ideology about the health of the first man.”

So we have evolved to support lactose? What about lactose intolerance that many people suffer? And humans have evolved to eat processed foods. Really? In the last 120 years? Who actually argues this? Then we return again to cutting out dairy, processed sugar and grains may make you feel better, but if you make an argument based on our hunter-gatherer ancestors you are cloaking your food choices in a “wishy-washy ideology about the diet of the first man.” The straw man argument returns; no paleo is arguing we go back to what the first man ate.

In the same paragraph, Davis continues, “[i]t’s downright impossible to replicate that diet and, as it turns out, the people of the paleolithic [sic] era weren’t all that healthy to begin with. A study of over 100 mummies from societies of farmers, foragers and hunter-gatherers around the world found that 47 of the 137 bodies had hearts that showed signs of clogged arteries (atherosclerosis).”

So we’ve got serious problems with this statement as well. The mummies came from four populations: Egyptian, Peruvian, the Ancestral Puebloans of southwest America and the Unangans of the Aleutian Islands. The Egyptians and Peruvians were agriculturalists and the Puebloans were forager-farmers. Only the Unangans were hunter-gatherers. Still, three out of the five Unangans did have signs of atherosclerosis and it seems that they were living on marine life. So there may be something here. Yet a sample size of five hunter-gatherers is not good. Any scientist will tell you that’s too small a sample. Moreover, if you actually go and read the study, the lead scientist, Greg Thomas believes that the clogged arteries may not have been from high cholesterol through diet but instead “caused by smoke inhalation or chronic infection.” Thomas’s colleague in the study, Michael Rosenfeld, states that animal studies show a link between a fatty diet and blocked arteries, but adds “the plaques seen in the mummies might have been caused by kidney disease or osteoporosis, rather than by atherosclerosis.” So this study is hardly a slam dunk against the paleo lifestyle.

The author concludes with eat whatever is right for you, but you’re not really eating a paleo friendly diet when on paleo.

Conclusion

So this attack is low hanging fruit. The author either doesn’t really know what paleos are arguing, or she knows and is distorting what paleos are arguing, or she stumbled across an eccentric who is arguing that we all should go back and eat like homo habilis. I don’t know. She ultimately never makes a coherent argument against the paleo lifestyle. We have some ad hominem attacks and a couple of straw men. The one piece of actual evidence is by no means conclusive. I wonder why she is so against a lifestyle she knows very little about.

For those who want a crash course on paleo or keto, go read the following articles:

https://thepaleodiabetic.com/what-is-paleo/

https://thepaleodiabetic.com/what-is-keto/